Dementia rates across Australia are rising particularly among women and Indigenous communities.
New research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has unveiled the impacts dementia is having across Australia's health and aged care system.
It is first time since 2012 AIHW conducted a survey on dementia, which is the second leading cause of death in Australia.
Dementia expert Fleur de Crespigny said Australia's ageing population is prompting discussions around if the current system can withstand increased pressure from the disease.
"Dementia is an umbrella term for a large number of conditions that gradually impair brain function," Dr de Crespigny said.
"It poses a substantial heath, aged care and societal challenge and with Australia's rapidly ageing population, it is predicted to become an even bigger challenge in the future."
Dr de Crespigny also noted a huge proportion of dementia carers were providing unpaid support of up to 60 hours a week for people living with the disease outside of aged facilities.
"In 2021, it is estimated that up to 337,200 Australians are providing constant unpaid care for a person with dementia, with over half of primary carers providing an average of 60 or more hours of unpaid care each week," she said.
According to Dr de Crespigny, dementia accounted for 14,700 deaths in 2019 and translates to around 9.5 per cent of all fatalities recorded in that year.
Behind coronary heart disease, it is leading cause of death among women and two-thirds of people living with dementia are women.
One in 12 Australians aged over 65 are living with the disease, while people aged over 90 years old hold a ratio of two in five being diagnosed with dementia.
The rate among Indigenous communities is estimated to be three-to-five times higher than the rest of the population.
AIHW estimates up to 472,000 are living with dementia and is expected to double by 2058.
In financial year 2019, $3 billion of health and aged care funding was funnelled into dementia support, which included residential services, community-based services and hospital care.
Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe said the report will assist in improving policy making and targeting support in the future.
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